Last updated at 16:15 GMT, Monday, 12 March 2012

Kabul's first women-only internet cafe

Summary

12 March 2012

An exclusive internet cafe for women has been opened in the Afghan capital of Kabul to mark International Women's Day. A first of its kind, the cafe has been named after Sahar Gul, a fifteen year old Afghan bride who was tortured and jailed by her husband a few months ago.

Reporter
Bilal Sarwary

2 women in the internet cafe

Afghan women surf the net in the Sahar Gul net cafe.

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Report

The Sahar Gul internet cafe was opened in Kabul today by a group of young rights activists called the 'Young women for change' - it is the first of its kind in the country. The group says that there are many internet cafes in Kabul but women do not go there because they face harassment. The atmosphere in these cafes is not good for women.

This group of young women plan to open similar cafes in several other provinces across Afghanistan. A largely symbolic move, the opening of this cafe may boost the morale of Afghan women. Millions of girls have returned to school, and women have gone back to work and into politics after the removal of Taliban regime in 2001.

But the life of most Afghan women still remains fraught with many hardships and challenges. Millions of women, mostly in the rural areas, are still deprived of their very basic rights. They are often forced into marriages by their families; others bear the brunt of violence at the hands of their husbands.

Women's rights have been a topic of hot debate lately after the country's top religious council advised women not to mingle with men and not to travel alone. Activists have accused the Afghan government of turning a blind eye towards the rights of women. While many women will be able to enjoy some freedom inside Sahar Gul's all female cafe, most still suffer and like Sahar Gul they are victims of domestic violence.

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Vocabulary

activists

people who campaign for change

harassment

unwelcome and persistent attention

symbolic

representing something else

morale

confidence, positivity

fraught with

filled with something (usually bad)

deprived

denied, not allowed

bear the brunt

take something full-force

mingle

mix

turning a blind eye

ignoring

domestic violence

physical or mental attacks at home

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